Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
April 2nd, 2014 by Joel Watts

#SBLAAR, Accepted: “There and Back Again, A Jesus Tale: The Poetics of Apologetic Reversal”

This paper examines the presentation of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11.1–17) via mimesis. Rather than rewriting previous works or seeking to capitalize upon the positive image of a previous generation’s prophet as Mark has before, I propose our author is exploiting an apology of reversal in this pericope. This repetition, aptly named the “mimesis of the other,” is a repetition to dominate (Nesteruk 2013). The author of the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus in such a way as to refute a particular image by first imitating that image and then altering the aftermath. We discover this image through intertextuality; we discover the repudiation through other devices concealed in the text. I propose a reading of Mark 11.1–17 where the author uses existing literary material of recent historical actions to present Jesus as one who has entered Jerusalem quite contrary to the manner of the Egyptian (BJ 2.263–65) and Simon bar Giora (BJ 4.570-84). I will use the “mimesis of the other” to propose a reason why Mark may have used at least two scenes from Josephus’s Bellum Judaicum (2.263–65; 4.570-84) to judiciously craft this anticlimactic scene. By using “mimesis of the other,” our author is establishing Jesus against familiar motifs of rebels and dictators who attempted to wrest Jerusalem away from the Romans. This paper will presume a post­–70 Sitz im Leben as well as knowledge of Josephus’s earliest works by the author of GMark. I will work, based on these presuppositions, towards establishing a literary relationship between these two texts transcending intertextuality to one utilizing structure, geography, and character movement so that we clearly see not just mimicking, but an intentional reversal serving as an apologetic device.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


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